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Japan voters debate change

August 30, 2009

Japanese voters debated change as they participated in an election on Sunday that looks set to give the opposition Democratic Party of Japan a historic victory over the Liberal Democratic Party that has ruled for most of the past 50 years.


Reuters reporters fanned out across Tokyo to talk to voters, and here’s what some of those at polling stations had to say:

“I would like to see a change from the long years of the Liberal Democratic Party. I hope it will change,” said 48-year-old Juri Sasao, who with her husband said they voted for the Democratic Party.

“It seemed like it was time for a political change. Until now the LDP has been in power but things have not gotten better under their rule. So now it seems like time for a party change and for Japan to undertake a new challenge,” said Hideki Kawano, a 59-year-old factory worker who voted for the Democrats.

“It seems like the Democrats are just saying what the people want to hear, but I’m not sure they can follow through on these promises. I think we need to give the LDP four more years to see their policies take effect before making a change,” said Taku Yamada, a 30-year-old health care industry worker who voted for the LDP.

“It’s taken a long time for this to happen. I voted for the Democrats because of the payouts for children. And I think the government should change this time,” said 39-year-old Atsushi Misu from Yokohama, south of Tokyo, who was at a polling station with his wife and two young boys.

“I have been an LDP supporter but this time I voted for the Democratic Party because I want to see how things will change under a Democrat government,” said Takeshi Yagi, a 39-year-old hairdresser in Tokyo who voted just after polling booths opened.

“I wanted to change the LDP’s administration, but I hate the Democrats, who are throwing money around,” said 66-year-old Teruyo Ogasawara of Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo, who came with her 74-year-old husband and voted for Your Party, led by former senior LDP lawmaker Yoshimi Watanabe.

“We had the LDP long enough and I think we are going to see a change in power this time,” said Motoyasu Sasaki, a 47-year old president of a food company. “We should give the Democrats a chance. I want the party to tackle the economic situation as the top priority.”

“The Democrats have good policy proposals. But I’m not sure all of them are really achievable. If we have a handover of power, everything has to start from scratch and it would be ordinary people who end up suffering,” said Tomiko Machida, a 75-year-old pensioner who voted for the LDP.

“Regardless of whether the LDP or DPJ wins, I don’t think the situation will change much. But we need to change the air and give the other party a chance,” said Marina Arai, a 28-year-old temp worker who voted for opposition candidates.

“I have always gone to vote, and rather than a party throwing money around, I think the people should also make efforts. What we have achieved so far is thanks to the conservative party,” said 84-year-old Kazuko Agaoka, who voted for the LDP. ”I am worried about a sudden change. It was (the LDP) that led the country to where we are today since the end of the war.”

“People are talking about the Democratic Party and a change in the government, but their platform did not seem clear to me,” said Koji Kawabata, a 47-year-old employee for a transportation company who voted for the LDP. “The economy is bad so I want something done quickly about that.”

Results of the election will start flowing when voting ends at 8 p.m. (7 a.m. Eastern / 1100 GMT).

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